'Cutting out carbs without advice can be dangerous, and can put you at risk of deficiencies in the long-term,' warns Dr Barclay. 'If you're looking to lose weight, burning fat may sound like the key to success, but in actual fact it comes with some risks, and may not be effective in the long term. The ketogenic diet is a short-term solution to a long-term health problem.'
When it comes to starting the keto diet (or any diet for that matter), there's one thing all experts agree on. You *must* have a plan. "Never try to wing a keto diet," says Julie Stefanski, R.D.N., C.S.S.D., L.D.N., a dietitian based in York, PA, who specializes in the ketogenic diet. "Set a start date and get prepared by reorganizing your pantry, planning out meal and snack options, and purchasing appropriate foods and dietary supplements," she says. "The biggest reason people have a hard time sticking with keto is that people don't have enough interesting foods to turn to, and high-carb favorites win out over good intention. If you didn't buy foods at the grocery store that fit the guidelines, there won't be an easy option in the fridge when you really need it." (A great place to start is this List of High-Fat Keto Foods Anyone Can Add to Their Diet.)
Initially you may be surprised that on keto diets you eat less frequently. That’s because the fats are pretty satisfying. But as you normalize and adjust into a ketogenic state, that may change and your appetite may increase. That’s fine and completely normal. Use whatever diet you decide to follow as a starting point – it should be “written in pencil” so that you can make changes along the way. Consider adding an extra meal, marginally increasing the size of the meals or just adding a shake between meals. It’s up to you – just listen to your body. For example for me, I added a low-carb “green powder” shake supplement to my regimen along with either flax seed oil or some nuts in order to satisfy my hunger.
And here’s an important side note: The amount of sugar we need in our bodies to keep the blood sugar number normal is only 1 teaspoon for all the blood in your body (about 1 gallons of blood). And that tiny amount of sugar could come from eating vegetables or even protein. In reality we do not need any sugar in our food at all. Yet the average person consumes 31 teaspoons of sugar and hidden sugar each day!
With intermittent fasting, the whole goal is to burn off excess fat, right? Watch how you feel when you exercise. Do you feel best when you exercise after eating or if you exercise while fasting? Watch if your legs feel heavy or if you tire too easily. Some people do well with eating first, while some love that feeling of exercising when they have fasted and having to eat afterwards.
Think about what’s happening. Your cells are resisting insulin, causing your body to make a lot more. With all this extra insulin in your blood, you could experience low blood sugars. This is called hypoglycemia, a word made from hypo (low) and glycemia (glucose in the blood). Hypoglycemia is caused by too much insulin in the blood and is a prediabetic symptom. Signs of hypoglycemia include cravings for carbs and sweets, being irritable, moody or depressed, having vision problems, being hungry or dizzy, and the list goes on and on. Your brain is the first organ to feel the effects of low blood sugars.
Your glycogen stores can still be refilled while on a ketogenic diet. A keto diet is an excellent way to build muscle, but protein intake is crucial here. It’s suggested that if you are looking to gain mass, you should be taking in about 1.0 – 1.2g protein per lean pound of body mass. Putting muscle on may be slower on a ketogenic diet, but that’s because your total body fat is not increasing as much.5Note that in the beginning of a ketogenic diet, both endurance athletes and obese individuals see a physical performance for the first week of transition.